View Part 1
We’re back with part 2 of the homebrewing process.
The barley needs to be milled (broken up so the starches can be accessed). You can buy a barley crusher/malt mill for this purpose, but I don’t have one, so I use a blender. You should go through all your malts (barley), blending them in fairly small quantities.
Put a metal grate into the bottom of your pot (such as a small roasting rack, or a canning rack), so the brew bag doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot. Ideally the bag will be elasticised at the top, so you can fold the edges over the top of the pot.
Add the milled barley to the bag. Add enough water to the pot to cover the barley. Heat the water up. Since the bag method isn’t the most efficient I recommend heating the water to resting temperatures (40C and 60C), and holding the temperatures for a period of time. Typically I do each rest for 30-40 minutes, depending on the amount of grain used. Stir periodically with your big spoon.
After about an hour and a half I then remove the bag with the grain from the pot. The liquid you have left in the pot is called ‘wort’. Bring the wort to a boil, and let it boil for an hour or more (I let it run for an hour and a half). I also put the grained bag in a smaller pot, and pour boiling water over them to remove more wort and sugars from the grain, which I then add to the boil.
During the boil you will want to add your hops. The earlier you add your hops to the boil the more flavour will be taken from the hops into the beer.
After the boiling stage has completed, you need to cool the wort. The best bet is an immersion chiller. I don’t have one, I plan to make one eventually but in the meantime I opt for an ice bath. Put the pot in the sink; fill the remaining space around the pot with ice. You may need to grab a few bags from the store.
It will be best to try and get the wort to cool down to under 30C within 30 minutes. Once it has cooled sufficiently, use a hydrometer to measure the gravity of the beer (the amount of sugar in the batch). When you purchase a hydrometer, it should include instructions for how to use it properly to measure your beer, so follow the instructions that come with your specific model. My beer had an original gravity of 1048. This measurement is important because it helps to determine how much alcohol is in the beer.
The next step is to add the yeast. It’s best to follow the instructions on the package, or on the website of the yeast company. More often than not though you can add it to lukewarm, sterile water in a bowl and let it activate (can take up to about 20 minutes). Add a small amount of cooled wort to the bowl, to bring the temperature of the yeast mixture to the temperature of the wort.
Now you will want to get your wort into the fermentation bucket! Get an auto siphon and siphon the wort into your bucket, leave the grimy stuff (hops and bits of barley that might have gotten through the bag) in the pot, you don’t want that in your fermentation bucket. Toss in the yeast paste and ‘aerate’ it – stir it with your (freshly cleaned!) large plastic spoon, put the bucket lid on tightly and placed the airlock (with some water in it) in the hole so carbon dioxide can get out but no gas can get in while it ferments. When you buy your fermentation bucket, it should include specific instructions about how to use your airlock, so follow those for your specfiic model. Store the container in a room temperature or slightly cooler location if you have the ability, base it around the ideal fermentation levels for the yeast.
I was ideally aiming for 20 litres of beer but I only managed to get 15 litres out of this batch. Even though I added just over 26 litres of water in total, I didn’t factor in how much water would evaporate… Oh well. Less water means stronger beer!
Tune in tomorrow for the final steps, fermentation and boiling.